Pharmacology researchers at the University of Montreal investigating the transition from drug using to drug addiction report that how the drugs are taken may substantially affect addiction potential. This research into drug pharmacokinetics suggests that in addition to social context and individual characteristics, the risk of addiction is affected by the speed with which the drug enters the brain, and the degree of fluctuation vs constancy in drug concentration. The conclusions are drawn from a meta-analysis of the available literature from clinical studies.
The authors conclude that the 2 means of administration leading to greatest risk of addition are injection and smoking. Both result in rapid increases and decreases in drug concentration in the brain, as compared with oral ingestion or snorting. These latter routes produce a slower, smaller peak concentration, which declines more gradually. These principles of pharmacokinetics already underlie some addiction treatments, such as nicotine patches and orally administered methadone and could one day guide the introduction of treatments for other additions including cocaine, for which no approved medication now exists.
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The work mentioned in this Daily Dose appears online ahead of print in Neuroscience and Behavioral Reviews. Read more about the research, with link to the journal source, here.